Wednesday, January 30, 2019

God, I Know You're There by Bonnie Rickner Jensen: A Review

God, I Know You're There, by Bonnie Rickner Jensen, illustrated by Lucy Flemming, is a sweet board book about things that we can't necessarily touch or see, but that we know are there anyway: things like wind, stars, thunder, and God.  Each two page spread is beautifully illustrated, with a rhyme, like this:

Wind, I can't see you.
Still I know you're there.
I feel you dance across my face
And rustle through my hair.

The illustrations are sweet and whimsical, and relevant to each rhyme.  I loved that the characters were drawn to have different genders and ethnicities.  This book is a gentle way to explain the unexplainable to children.  It shows that some things are real and true, even if we can't explore them with our senses, even if we can only hold them in our hearts.  I really liked this book.

You may be wondering why I chose to review this particular book.  I mean, we are well beyond board-book days in our household.  Truthfully, I chose it because I knew it would be a quick and easy read, and I'd be able to get my review out without investing a lot of time.  I figured I'd give it to one of my girlfriends who has preschool aged children after I was done.  But now?  I think I'm going to keep it, for cuties who may visit someday.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

My Nine (goals) for 2019

I've narrowed it down, and now, today, 1/12 of the way through 2019, as promised, I'm ready to share my list of goals for this year.  I decided to go with nine, because 19 seems like way too many.  We won't talk about the fact that I accomplished 17 last year, and that 19 is only two more.  Nineteen sounds like sooooo much more than 17, or even 18.

Anyway, I've narrowed it down to 9, with the understanding that the others, the ones that didn't make the cut, may or may not happen, too.

So here, without further ado, is the list.

  • Plant sunflowers by the chicken coop--These will be multipurpose sunflowers.  They'll be pretty, provide shade, and provide food for the chickens.  The challenge will be keeping the girls from eating them before they get strong enough to withstand the chickens' pecking.

  • Make/install chicken swing--My sis said I should do this one, and I have to admit, I'm looking forward to seeing the girls enjoying it.  I hope they do enjoy it.

  • Make vanilla extract--Making vanilla (well, most extracts, really) extract is so easy--I'm looking forward to knocking this one out early.  

  • Cover a box that I store things in to make it pretty--I've been meaning to do this for years.  Even though it's a box that I use in our master bathroom, so hardly anyone ever sees it, it will make me happy to have a prettier receptacle.

  • Crochet or knit something, like a ponchoa blanketpurple scarves, or a hat -- I definitely want to expand my yarn-working skills.  It's always so much fun to crochet something, but then the next time I want to try I psych myself out, because I think it'll be difficult.

  • Four playdates with myself (Ikea, Hobby Lobby, downtown, Arboretum)--This is another one my sis said I should do.  And I think I should, too.  You know how some people go shopping for fun?  Yeah.  I do not.  And lately I've been avoiding shopping until absolutely necessary.  But I think I would find these particular expeditions to be inspiring, so I'm going to "make" myself go.

Aren't these dishcloths darling?
  • Replace dish cloths--I really like our dishcloths--they're cloth on one side, with a scrubby side on the other--but they kind of stink when they're wet, and feel almost slimy, too.  Yuck.  I did use some extra methods to try to get the ick out, and that seems to have worked, but now they're getting grungy again.  They're several years old, so it's time for some new ones.  Maybe I'll get some at Ikea!

  • Put together a traveling charger kit--You know, cords and wall chargers that are specifically designated for travel, kind of like my travel toiletries kit.  This way, I won't have to bother with remembering to grab my cords at the last minute when we travel.

  • Facts of life book--This goal, of course, is continued from last year.

Here are the ten additional goals that I would add if I was doing 19:

And here are the goals that didn't make the cut:
  • Make a grazing box for the chickens
  • Replace my screen protector
  • Replace my phone case

Monday, January 28, 2019

Menu plan for the week of January 28

Hello, friends.  Do you ever get so tired that you can't sleep?  Ugh.  I hate when that happens.  It seems so unfair.  I mean, I can understand being so not-tired that you can't sleep, but too tired?  It just doesn't make sense.

So, hey.  I'm exhausted.  And I can't sleep.  My tired condition is exacerbated by the fact that Hubby was out of town for two weeks.  Not only is parenting solo tiring, but I also have this annoying habit of staying up way too late when Hubby's out of town.  And then there's the whole post-Christmas slump.  Can I still consider that a factor almost 5 weeks later?

Sure.  Why not?

Anyway, Hubby's back, so I'm back to menu planning.  Here ya go:



Friday, January 25, 2019

How I do cards

I was out and about a couple of weeks ago, and I had a strong feeling that I needed to go to Dollar Tree before AKD went back to school.  So I stopped at Dollar Tree, but when I got inside and looked at my running Dollar Tree list (one hazard of watching Dollar Tree hauls on YouTube is they make you want to buy all the cute things.  So I make a list of all the cute things as I'm watching the hauls.  And usually, by the time I actually get to Dollar Tree, either the cute things are gone, or I've decided I don't want them after all, so it usually turns out ok), there wasn't anything on the list that couldn't have waited until after AKD left. 

And then I remembered.  Cards.  I needed to buy the cards so that AKD could sign them.  Or at least the ones between February and the beginning of May.

Here's the deal.  Sending cards is important to me.  I want my loved ones to know that I'm thinking of them, and I know how much I appreciate getting something in the mail that isn't a catalog or a bill.  But a couple of years ago, I wasn't sending cards.  I wasn't sending cards because it is such an ordeal to remember that someone's birthday or anniversary is coming up, then get to the store and chose a card, then bring it home, sign and stamp it, and actually get it into the mailbox.

OK, when I put it like that, it doesn't sound like so much of an ordeal.  But it totally is.  For me, anyway.  I hate shopping, and I am a notorious underbuyer.  If I don't absolutely need (and I do mean need) something, I talk myself out of buying it.  And it is very rare that I actually need to buy something right that second.  It can almost always wait a day or a week or forever.  Birthday cards?  I do not need.

So here's what I do.  I buy all of the birthday and anniversary cards for all of the family that I send such cards to all at once.  In one trip to the store.  I line the cards up on the floor in the card aisle to make sure I haven't missed any, and other customers walking by look at me funny.  Also, the cashier usually looks at me funny, as does the customer in line behind me who is buying only one card.

That's alotta cards!
Yes, it is an ordeal (and sometimes I forget which card is for which person by the time I get home), but it is only a once a year ordeal instead of a 20 times a year ordeal.  I would buy all of the other cards on that day too, like Mom's and Dad's day, Easter, etc, if they were available in January.

I address all of the cards, put the event date in the top right corner, and sort them in date order.
When I get home, I take about 15 minutes to address the cards and sort them in date order.  I write the date of the event in the upper right corner where the stamp will eventually cover it up, and then I put a reminder in my phone to post the first card a week before the first date.  When that reminder pops up, I get everybody to sign the card, stamp it, put it in the mail, and set a new reminder in my phone to post the next card.

Yes, it really was 4°F that day.
Yes, it is more work up front, but it saves so much time and effort throughout the year.  And it works, too.  We only missed one card this year, and that was because the recipient wasn't going to be home on his birthday and I didn't have the address where he would be and then I ran out of time before going out of town and forgot to bring it with me (we sent it late.  He probably thought it was weird, but that's OK).  This method also accomplishes my goal of letting loved ones know they're thought of.  They don't have to know that they were actually thought of in early January.  Well.  I guess they know now.

Here's a tip: I buy my cards at Dollar Tree, because there they cost $1.  Some of them are even 50¢.  And they're Hallmark cards, y'all!  I don't even want to think about buying 20 cards all at once at $4-5 a pop.  And the folks I'm sending cards to don't care.  In this case, it really is the thought that counts, not the price tag.

Here's another tip: The cost to post a first class letter is going up 5¢ on Sunday, so get to the Post Office today or tomorrow to buy some Forever stamps if you're running low.
Dude.  They have Hotwheels stamps. 

So that's it.  That's how I do cards.  Do you send birthday and anniversary cards?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

19 for 2019 Reveal

Hi friends.  Today I'm bringing you the long awaited 19 for 2019 goal list.

Or am I?

Nope.  I'm not.

But I am sharing my list of possibles with you.  I'm still not sure if I'll do nineteen or nine--I'm definitely leaning toward nine.  You all can help me refine my choices.  Let me know your top 5.  And whether you think I should do 9 or 19.

I announced my 2018 goals on January 26, so I'm right on schedule for this year.  It's that free trial month, you know...

Here's what I might do in 2019:

So what do you think?  Which are your favorites?  How many should I take on this year?  I'll refine and report back next week!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Menu plan for the week of January 21

Let's give this a try, friends.  Here's the menu plan for this week.


  • Chicken chili verde, tortillas, taco type toppings
  • Fend for yourself/leftovers
  • Hot dogs, buns, chips, jello, green beans
  • Pizza, chopped salad
  • Hamburgers, buns, chips, grilled green vegetable
  • Crockpot BBQ chicken, toasted buns, coleslaw, roasted green beans
  • Peppered steak with portobello mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes, grilled green vegetables


Friday, January 18, 2019

Chicken Devos and the World Dance Floor

I've developed a new morning routine in the past couple of months.

First thing after I wake up in the morning, I stay in bed as long as possible.  It's a great way to start the day.  You should try it.  When I absolutely have to get out of bed, I do.  After that, I make sure Bubby at least has the opportunity to eat something, then Bubby and I head out to the bus stop.

By the way friends, something that is saving my life these days is alarms.  I set an alarm to tell me when to make sure Bubby is awake.  I set an alarm to remind me to ask him if he's hungry.  I set an alarm to tell us to head out the door to the bus.  I also have night time alarms.  If you are having trouble remembering to do something on a daily basis, set an alarm.  On most devices, you can name alarms, so you don't even have to remember what the alarm is for.

Anyway, after Bubby gets on the bus, I walk back to the house, grab my Bible and prayer journal, and head out to the chicken coop.  Sometimes I let the girls out, sometimes I don't, but I always pull up a chair and make myself comfortable.

It was 8°F that morning.
 At this point, you probably have lots of questions.  Or maybe just one question: why?  I started doing devotions with the chickens at the end of November, because I had been hearing, from multiple sources, that early morning exposure to natural light is an important factor in keeping circadian rhythms intact.  And circadian rhythms have an impact on seasonal depression, or lack of thereof.

For the past several years, I've noticed that the darkness of November and December get to me.  In not a good way.  So I figured I'd give early morning natural light a try.  At the same time, I've struggled for years to make Bible study a daily habit.  I've gone through study spurts through the years, but it never sticks long term.  So I decided to combine Bible study with natural light and throw in some (therapy) chickens for good measure. 

In the winter.

So that's why I bundle up every weekday morning and head out to read to the chickens.  I'm not sure how much natural light I'm actually getting, since it's usually cloudy, but whatever.  I think it's helping.  And the girls love hanging out with me.  The feeling is mutual.

After about 20-30 minutes of devotion and prayer with the chickens, I head inside and grab my water bottle.  And then I head to the World Dance Floor.

You guys.  I am just a teensy weensy bit obsessed with Just Dance.  My kiddos gave me the 2019 Xbox One edition, but it doesn't matter.  I bet I'd be enamored with any of them.  I thought I would have fun with it, but I didn't think I'd be dancing for an hour or two every day while the kids are in school.

You heard me.  An hour or two.

And I had never heard of probably 75% of the songs before I got the game.  And I am not a natural or graceful dancer.  But it is just. so. fun.

And it's good for me, too.  You laugh, but I am definitely sweating and achieving my target heart rate when I'm Just Dancing.

Players can dance on their own, or in groups of up to 6 dancers, but there's also something called the World Dance Floor, where people from around the world are all dancing to the same song at the same time.  And competing, I guess.  But I don't pay too much attention to the scores.  I just dance.  Like nobody's watching.  Because nobody is.  I'm pretty sure vigorous exercise helps with circadian rhythms, too.

And that's my new morning routine.  Oh.  After the World Dance Floor, I head to the kitchen for breakfast, usually a one egg omelet with crumbled bacon and melted cheddar cheese, and then I hit the shower.

I am loving the spiritual, emotional, and physical boost that comes from following my morning routine.  It's a little unconventional, but who can argue with results?  And those endorphins.

So tell me: what's your morning routine like?

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

18 for 2018 Wrap-up

Hey.  Sorry to leave you hanging, y'all.  I did mean to post a final update on my 2018 goals before the end of the year, but then life happened.  I started to feel overwhelmed in mid-December and decided to cease with the goals to make life feel more manageable.  So that's the first lesson.  These goals were for me, and when they were making life more stressful, it was ok for me to abandon postpone them.  The only person I needed to impress was me, and I am super impressed with my ability to let those expectations go and be ok with it.

So...I did not finish that final 2018 goal.  Even though I gave myself permission to call it done on December 21 regardless of how much I actually got done.  I got the list done, and I did begin gathering information, but I got caught up in format.  All along I was thinking that this would be an actual physical binder, mostly because I prefer reading on paper, but also because it seems like a pain to have to turn on a device in order to make changes.  But when I got right down to it, I realized it made much more sense to make this thing digital.  And then I was stuck on whether I wanted it to be digital on my hard drive or a jump drive, or digital ...out there... in the ether.  I prefer ...out there... but wonder about security.  So that goal's been deferred for now.

But y'all!  I am so impressed that I completed 17 other goals.  That is definitely something to be proud of.  And I am so thankful that I made the list in the first place.  Some of the goals were things that I had wanted to accomplish for years.  Years, y'all.  And the list finally provided the little bit of inspiration that I needed to get those things done.

You may be wondering if I'm going to be setting any goals for 2019.  Stay tuned for that.  In the meantime, here's a look back at some of the things I accomplished in 2018.

1. Make Oyster Shell & Grit Dispensers
2. Plant a Garden with tomatoes and jalapenos
3. Can Jalapenos

4. Have everyone in the household take the love languages quiz.
5. Go on a date with each of my boys
6. Send friend mail 8 times
7. Begin Using To-Do notebook

8. Purge file cabinet and create paper organization system
9. Create a household binder/legacy box
10. Delete saved electronic mystery shop screen shots and receipts
11. Buy Desk Task Light

12. Buy phone charging cords for each of our vehicles
13. Make a Chicken Sign
14. Take a Class through a craft store

15. Finish Valences
16. Crochet a Messy Bun Hat
17. Get the kids' pictures taken
18. Send Christmas Cards

Monday, January 14, 2019

Menu plan for the week of January 14. Well, sorta.

Hi friends.  Did you wonder where I was?  No?  Well, alrighty then.  I'll tell ya anyway.

We went to Colorado for Christmas.  Isn't that fun?  This was our view from the outdoor ice skating rink.  And then we came home and people visited us.  And then the kiddos went back to school but the people were still visiting.  And then they left, but since I'd just spent 16 days in close proximity to other people, I was exhausted.

It's the second full week of 2019, and I'm already taking a week off from meal planning.  This does not bode well for this year in menu planning.  But it is what it is.  No plan this week.  I know.  Super disappointing.  Since I don't want to let you down, I've decided to share last week's menu with you.

So here ya go--here's what we ate last week:

Maybe I'll be able to come up with something new next week.  Wish me luck!
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